ST. LOUIS -- A banner year for the Cardinals' Minor League system featured standout performers at every level. Tops among them, though, were outfielder Harrison Bader and right-hander Jack Flaherty, who have been chosen by the MLBPipeline.com staff as the organization's Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year.
To be eligible for consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors, appeared on the team's Top 30 Prospects list and played the entire year in the organization. Flaherty ranks third on the Cardinals' prospect list, while Bader slots in fifth.
Both also cracked MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 midseason rankings at Nos. 47 and 90, respectively.
Bader, who earned the same postseason honor in 2016, appeared in 123 games for Triple-A Memphis, which went on to win the Pacific Coast League Championship. Bader posted a slash line of .283/.347/.469 with an .816 OPS and 39 extra-base hits as the team's primary center fielder.
The Cardinals called Bader up to the Majors for a brief stint in late July and then added him again when rosters expanded in September.
"He's an exciting player," manager Mike Matheny said of the former third-round pick. "[He's shown] some great production at the plate [and is] a guy with plus speed. [He's] just one of the better players we have in our system, for sure."
The Cardinals are similarly excited about the potential that Flaherty has shown in a quick rise through the system. A first-round Draft pick out of high school in 2014, Flaherty opened the year in Double-A Springfield's rotation, earned a promotion to Triple-A at the end of May and then represented the organization in the All-Star Futures Game.
In his 25 starts between the two levels, Flaherty combined to go 14-4 with a 2.18 ERA. He held opponents to a .221 batting average and struck out 147 over 148 2/3 innings.
The success eventually earned Flaherty a summons to St. Louis, where he stepped into the rotation for four September starts.
"I've been following him since his draft and watching him all along and watching the kind of season that he's had," Matheny said. "He's shown us that he's one of the top prospects we have in the organization."
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.